Entering the New Year with Intention

by Reyna Eisenstark

New Year’s Eve has the tendency to provoke all kinds of anxiety. There is this idea, an insistence really, that you must spend New Year’s Eve doing something incredibly special, because the way you enter the new year will tell you exactly how the next 364 days are going to go for you. You simply need to be having the best time of your life that night. (But no pressure.)

If you happen not to be in a relationship, there’s the added panic of making sure that, when the clock strikes midnight, you’re having so much fun you hardly notice that everyone around you is kissing and acting like they couldn’t possibly be happier. It’s the sort of thing that makes you want to get into bed at, say, 10:00 pm on December 31, bury your head under your pillow, and just hope for the best.

But what if there was another option?

Kripalu Yoga teacher and teacher-trainer Jennifer Reis thinks it’s important that people realize there are alternatives to simply staying at home or staying out all night: You can create your own ritual of transition with loved ones and/or kindred spirits. She says that entering into the new year is an important transition, but that many people aren’t sure how to approach it. In the past, she often felt that she’d missed something after New Year’s Eve was over. “I wasn’t present for it,” she recalls. “But it is so powerful to be with people who are conscious and want to go into the new year with clarity.”

Jurian Hughes, who coteaches the program Living Out Loud: Creating Joy and Intention for the New Year with Jennifer, admits that she, too, has often found New Year’s Eve to be disappointing. Jurian, an actress, dancer, and Kripalu Yoga teacher, believes that what people really want is something “celebratory and sacred.” That might involve music, dancing, and/or self-nurturing time alone or with a significant person in your life.

Jennifer is a teacher of yoga nidra, or “lucid sleeping,” which she describes as more transformative than anything she does: “It shifts your nervous system into the parasympathetic mode, which rejuvenates your organs and can prevent illness and injury.” Yoga nidra can easily be practiced at home once you learn how to truly relax. According to Jennifer, it allows you to access your own deeper levels so that you can feel a greater connection to yourself, which is definitely something to take into the new year with you.

Both Jennifer and Jurian dislike the idea of “resolutions,” those half-thought-out plans that seem motivating when you make them, but then nag at you unpleasantly for most of the year. Instead, they believe you should go into the new year with “intentions.”

“With intentions, you can take actions toward greater self-care without the sense of pressure that ‘resolutions’ imposes on us,” Jurian said.  

My new year’s intention for the past few years has simply been to pay attention, something that seems to get easier with each passing year—so that, when the clock strikes midnight on December 31, I’ll feel like I haven’t missed a thing.

Reyna Eisenstark is a freelance writer living in Chatham, New York. She writes a blog inspired by stories from her life.

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